POLITICS

High Court ruling confirms AARTO is unconstitutional ? Anton Alberts

FF Plus says it warned that the system is needlessly complex and would not achieve its objectives

High Court ruling confirms FF Plus’s view that the AARTO system is unconstitutional

13 January 2022

The ruling by the High Court in Pretoria that the AARTO system in its entirety is unconstitutional confirms the view that the FF Plus's has held from the outset, i.e. the system is unconstitutional and very dangerous.

The FF Plus also wants to congratulate the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) with its successful application to have the AARTO system declared unconstitutional.

Ever since the AARTO Act was first issued, the FF Plus warned that the system is needlessly complex and will not achieve its objective of making the country's roads safer. The pilot phase of AARTO, which was implemented in three Gauteng metros, clearly demonstrated that there was no decrease in injuries and deaths due to road accidents, on the contrary, such incidents actually increased after the system was launched.

Thus, the AARTO legislation failed to achieve its main goal and it is, therefore, unconstitutional.

The system is very sophisticated and requires an environment of great integrity and high standards to function as it should. No such environment was created, though. Instead, the new system created a fertile breeding ground for numerous abuses, to the detriment of the public.

In Gauteng, for example, fines were issued too late in terms of the legal prescripts, making the said fines unlawful, but these fines were still enforced on an ignorant public. Furthermore, no proper infrastructure was put in place to deal with the great number of representations. At one stage, the Johannesburg Metro Police fulfilled AARTO functions, for which it was not authorised, like handling these representations itself.

In addition, the Metro Police had numerous roadblocks where motorists were forced to pay their fines at once, but the legislation does not authorise such action.

The worst case of AARTO mismanagement was a period of several months during which no fines were issued at all. During this period, there was in effect no policing of lawbreaking on the roads of the three Gauteng metros seeing as the functioning of the former, more effective Criminal Procedure Act to prosecute traffic related offences was suspended.

So, during that time, reckless drivers could travel with impunity.

In essence, AARTO is a symbol of the ANC government's sheer inability to manage any modern system in a way that benefits the country.

The High Court's ruling raises yet another question, and that is whether the people who paid AARTO fines are now entitled to reclaim the funds. Apart from the possibility that the government may appeal the ruling, this question that holds serious financial consequences for the government will keep looming in the background.

Issued by Anton Alberts, FF Plus national chairperson, 13 January 2022